What do World War II and Hurricane Laura have in common with each other? They both impacted Orange, and they both brought people together that might not have come here otherwise.
Orange County is recovering from Hurricane Laura which struck over a month ago. In the wake of the storm volunteers have come to the county to help with the aftermath just like people came here following the start of the war.
Team Rubicon Disaster Response is one of the groups that has come here to cut up downed limbs and remove roots of trees that blew over. One of those volunteers actually has his roots in Orange.
Currently a resident of Nacogdoches County, Joe Allport was born in Orange sixty-four years ago. He has been working in emergency services for the last 25 years when he met members of Team Rubicon and joined them.
Joe’s parents Daryl and Jean Allport met in Orange. The two were brought together by World War II.
Jean whose maiden name was Smith lived in Deweyville until her mother got the job as the postmaster of Orange in 1941. After graduating from high school in Orange, Jean worked during the summer at the local USO when the war started.
Allport’s dad Daryl was from California and enlisted in the United States Navy after high school. One of his first stations was at the naval base in Orange, the same location where Joe and Team Rubicon are quartering while here.
Daryl and Jean met at the USO in Orange. “They had to court for over two-and-a-half years because he was in the south Pacific,” Joe replied.
A fire control man second class Daryl was assigned to the Fletcher class destroyer USS Dyson which was built at Consolidated Steel Corporation in Orange. The ship served in the naval war against the Japanese which included fighting during the Bougainville campaign in 1943 and 1944.
In March of 1945 the USS Dyson went to Long Beach, California for some repairs. Jean and her mother drove all the way from Orange to Long Beach to see Daryl. “They got married, had a two-day honeymoon, and then he shipped out again,” Joe informed.
It would be eleven years later that Joe was born in Orange. He lived in Vidor for two years before moving with his family to Beaumont.
The volunteers with Team Rubicon come from all over the country, but Allport is the only one from here. “I tell them that I’m really proud to be here because I get to come down to help my people,” Joe said proudly.
A typical deployment for Team Rubicon is eight days at a disaster. Allport has been in Orange since Saturday, September 26. Others have been here longer making multiple deployments to help with the recovery.
It is all about disaster relief for Team Rubicon in Orange, Jasper, and Newton counties. Its members tarp roofs, cut up a lot of trees, and push the debris out to the road to be hauled off. They also do some tear out of homes that have interior damage and also perform sight surveys where they inspect homes to see what kind of work is needed by other team members.
Allport could have gone to Lake Charles or Alabama where Hurricane Sally hit. “I picked Orange because I wanted to come here,” Allport stated.
The members of Team Rubicon are residing while here at the old naval base in Orange which has changed in the decades since World War II. The actual bivouac area made of Quonset huts where Daryl Allport and enlisted men would have resided are gone. Joe and the other Team Rubicon members are staying in the what was the officers’ barracks.
The fact that Joe is now living in officers’ country would not have bothered his dad Daryl who passed away fourteen years ago. “That’s ironic, but Dad was a very modest man, he’s typical World War II people, it wouldn’t hurt his feelings that I’m in the officers’ quarters,” Joe laughed.
This deployment for Joe Allport will conclude in early October, and he will return to his home in Nacogdoches. “I knew I was going to come down to Orange, but I didn’t know we were going to be at the naval base where my dad was billeted during that early stage of the war, and I’m glad I came here,” Allport admitted.
-Dan Perrine, KOGT-